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Joe Neguse

Inside Neguse’s plans as assistant leader

When House Democrats last week unanimously elected Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) to replace Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) as the newest member of leadership, the whole-cloth change of the Democratic guard officially became complete.

We sat down with the 39-year-old Neguse — seen by many as a rising star in the caucus — to hear about his vision for the assistant leader role.

What does the position actually do: Neguse likened his new job to the assistant speaker role that Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) and now-Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) served in under former Speaker Nancy Pelosi. And that’s probably what this job would translate to if Democrats win back the majority later this year.

The Colorado Democrat said his primary responsibilities are supporting House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and providing resources, like training programs and constituent messaging advice, to members.

News on this front: Neguse arranged for FTC Chair Lina Khan to address House Democrats after votes on April 15. Check out the invite here.

Clark and Luján also worked closely with House freshmen in the majority. We’ll be watching to see if Neguse takes this job on as well.

On generational change: Under Clyburn, it was unclear where the role fell in the Democratic leadership ranks. Remember, Clyburn was the only one of the top three leaders — along with Pelosi and Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) — who maintained a position in leadership after Democrats lost the majority in 2022. This caused some internal strife at the time.

Neguse, the former chair of the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, is unsurprisingly always on message. Neguse praised Pelosi, Clyburn and Hoyer as “living legends.”

The Colorado Democrat then said Jeffries, Clark and Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar — known to House Dems as the “New Three” — represent the “visionary, new, forward-thinking positive face of the Democratic Party.”

This image, in Neguse’s eyes, provides a clear contrast with “the constant infighting and strife and dysfunction and chaos of Republican leadership.”

Will Democratic messaging break through: We asked Neguse if he was concerned about recent polling showing a plurality of voters felt President Joe Biden’s policies had personally hurt them. Of course, Hill Democrats passed a number of significant bills during the first two years of Biden’s presidency.

“I don’t know that the voters have fully tuned in quite yet, with respect to the November election,” Neguse said. “I’m confident that our message is resonating with the voters.”

Neguse also argued “that every special election of note in the last two years has been won by Democrats,” citing Rep. Tom Suozzi’s (D-N.Y.) recent victory.

What he learned from the Dean Phillips situation: One of Neguse’s toughest tests in the House to date was dealing with Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) — a former DPCC co-chair — and his presidential run. While Neguse helmed the DPCC, Phillips decided to challenge Biden while serving as a member of House Democratic leadership.

Neguse didn’t directly answer, instead pivoting to praising the work of the DPCC staff for continuing their work in the midst of the vacancy.

— Max Cohen

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Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.